• Aug 26, 2010
Despite plenty of data that shows that drinking and driving leads to the deaths of thousands of motorists each year, consuming alcohol and getting behind the wheel is still a big problem in America. A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that eight percent of Americans admit to drinking and driving at least once in the past year. That's about 17 million drivers. A quarter of all respondents say they have gotten behind the wheel within two hours of having one or more alcoholic beverages.

To help combat this growing problem, NHTSA is launching its annual Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest. campaign. The campaign will be supported by $13 million in NHTSA-supplied ads and a big time crackdown by local law enforcement leading up to the Labor Day weekend. NHTSA chief Ray LaHood underscores the fact that drinking and driving is still a genuine threat to drivers everywhere, adding, "We are going to continue doing all that we can to stop drunk driving and the needless tragedies that result from this reckless behavior."

Perhaps the most disturbing trend involves 16-20 year-old drivers. While most weren't inclined to admit to drinking and driving, the ones who did fess up often admitted to consuming six or more alcoholic beverages in one setting. That's obviously not a good trend, and NHTSA says that its data shows that people who drink more tend to drink and drive more. Hit the jump to read a very sobering NHTSA press release.

[Source: NHTSA]
Show full PR text
U. S. Department of Transportation Announces Nationwide Enforcement Crackdown on Drunk Driving NHTSA Releases New Survey Showing One in Five U.S. Drivers Admits to Drinking and Driving WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation today kicked off the annual Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest. campaign aimed at getting drunk drivers off the road.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also released new data today indicating that eight percent of all drivers, as many as 17 million people, have driven drunk at least once during the past year. The law enforcement crackdown will run through Labor Day and involve thousands of police agencies from across the nation. Enforcement efforts are supported by $13 million in television and radio advertising from NHTSA. "Drunk driving is deadly, it's against the law, and unfortunately, it's still a problem," said Secretary LaHood. "With the help of law enforcement around the country, we are going to continue doing all that we can to stop drunk driving and the needless tragedies that result from this reckless behavior."

NHTSA's research revealed that about one in five Americans have driven within two hours of drinking alcohol in the past year. Four out of five Americans identified drunk driving as a "major threat" to their own and their family's safety. The survey noted that those who reported that they drink and drive consumed alcohol more regularly than individuals who drink but choose not to drive afterwards. More than one in four drinking drivers, 28 percent, consumed alcoholic beverages three or more days a week, compared to 10 percent of drivers who drink but do not drive afterwards. NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said, "Our message is loud and clear. If you drive drunk you will be arrested and prosecuted. There will be no exceptions and no excuses. And if you're below the age of 21, there is zero tolerance for any alcohol in your system whatsoever. That's why we're out there with law enforcement, tackling this major safety issue head on."

Administrator Strickland noted that the study revealed a particularly concerning rate of drinking and driving behavior among young drivers, especially young male drivers. Few 16 to 20 year-old respondents admitted to driving after drinking in the survey, but those that did admit to drinking said they drank almost six alcohol beverages at one sitting. While this admission in the survey was inclusive of all drinking occasions, and not just drinking and driving, it does suggest that when young people decide to combine the two, they are drinking more heavily.

Personal drinking behavior can also lead to an increased likelihood of riding with impaired, unsafe drivers. According to the survey, 8 percent of the population 16 and older rode in the past year with a driver they thought may have consumed too much alcohol to drive safely. The latest survey was administered in 2008 by telephone to 6,999 respondents 16 years and older, and over-sampled teenagers and young adults 16-24 years of age. The survey is conducted on a periodic basis to monitor the public's attitudes, knowledge, and self-reported behavior regarding drinking and driving. Visit http://www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/traffic_tech/tt392.pdf to view the new survey.


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  • 53 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Half of all automobile accidents involve drivers who were drinking. That means half of all automobile accidents were caused by drivers who weren't drinking. So why are we picking on drivers who drink? We should be going after drivers who don't drink with the same enthusiasm as we exercise going after the drinkers. And, from a personal perspective, if the split is 50/50, then it makes no difference whether you drink and drive or don't drink and drive. You might as well drink and drive.
      • 4 Years Ago
      8 percent? they must mean the completely drunk people, not the buzzed drivers.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Title reader I'm guessing?

        The article explains that 8% equals to 17,000,000 American citizens.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Integrated alcohol detection sensors for the driver that interrupt the ability to start the car is already on the government's radar. The technology is still in it's infancy and is likely a decade or more away.

      But the day is coming.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The problem is in the 'presumed guilt' of that interlock. It should be mandated (for life) for anyone convicted of DUIs, but not for the general public obeying that law. After all, if I do not drink and drive, why should I pay for that? Plus, most of these interlocks do not detect other drug-impaired driving, so it would need to actually draw blood and analyze the sameple.

        And, continuing on with the 'safety is paramount' aspect, why not have a device that renders all outgoing signals (cellular, wireless, and sat phones) inoperative as long as the vehicle is in motion? Texting is as bad as severely drunk driving, and even phone conversations have been proven to be just as bad as some at the legal limit.

        And though not a prevention aid, perhaps in-car video recording of driver's actions, which could show other inattentive driving behaviors (turning around to deal with kids, eating, reading, applying makeup, etc.) that lead to collisions. Like an enhanced black box.

        If safety is so paramount that anything can be done (such as 'prove you are innocent' interlocks), then all I have listed should be enacted.
        • 4 Years Ago
        and pray tell, what's objectionable about that?

        There is no right to drive, and surely there's no right to drive drunk. I'll fully support the Government's anti-drunk driving agenda.
        heatherdawn206
        • 4 Years Ago
        I think this might be a great idea for the REPEAT offenders out there that don't ever learn from their mistakes. Some of these creeps are still driving around after 4 or 5 DUI's.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'd like to know why all of the TV ads for the campaign only show men. A LOT of women drive drunk too.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This headline and the stats that back it up don't match. Driving after drinking a beer or two, in the average sized person, does not constitute "drunk" unless there is some further definition in the data. Drinking and driving is indeed a bad idea but this kind of hyperbole and faulty statistical analysis is ridiculous "journalism".
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's not really drunk but if you chugged two beers then got right in the car your driving would be rather noticeably worse if an emergency situation arose. But the problem is that the study included getting in the car anywhere within 2 hours, which is a lot of time. It's actually enough time to be basically completely sober if you drank two beers, and even if you only waited an hour after drinking 2 beers you'd only have one beer's worth of alcohol left if your system (which isn't really good but is still quite a bit from drunk driving as in over the limit drunk driving).
        They need to make it 2 beers then getting right in the car or worse (so 3 beers and only waiting one hour, or 4 beers and waiting two hours or worse, etc.) for this statistic to be meaningful because otherwise it could just be that 6% of people have a glass of wine with dinner then sit around digesting for an hour then get in their car sober and drive home. Which isn't exactly some huge danger.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Most people can't count when it comes to having a celebration because of their "favorite team won"! I watch a program here at home and it is funny and a bit angering at the same time. A cop pulls someone over and asks the person, "how many have you had tonight"? The person says "just a couple beers" and then falls on their butt when asked to walk a straight line. The truth was a couple 6 packs! I have found that 1 drink along with a dinner that takes an hour, along with some chit chat, leaves almost no alcohol in your blood stream...certainly not enough to loose control of one's self control and ability at the wheel. I think that falling asleep at the wheel, cell usage and texting are far more of a problem than alcohol, these days. If you feel that you cannot drive safely, call a friend; its far better to have a dent in your ego than killing someone, may be yourself.
      • 4 Years Ago
      NHTSA: Eight percent of Americans admit to driving drunk in past year

      This article is biased towards the government.

      Be aware of any of the government numbers. First question I have is the title says 8% of drivers admit to drunk driving but the article says 8% admit to drinking and driving. This is a potentially a big difference. You CAN drink and NOT be drunk.

      “A quarter of all respondents say they have gotten behind the wheel within two hours of having one or more alcoholic beverages.” Again this does not necessarily mean that they are drunk.

      “To help combat this growing problem,” Where is, anywhere in this article or press release, state that the problem is growing. There is no proof of this assertion.

      “NHTSA chief Ray LaHood underscores the fact that drinking and driving is still a genuine threat to drivers everywhere, adding, "We are going to continue doing all that we can to stop drunk driving and the needless tragedies that result from this reckless behavior."”

      A genuine threat to drivers everywhere. Really? I see bad drivers everywhere but I would think that I have seen no drunk drivers. It is not because the cops have already gotten them either.

      This is probably the most biased: “Perhaps the most disturbing trend involves 16-20 year-old drivers. While most weren't inclined to admit to drinking and driving, the ones who did fess up often admitted to consuming six or more alcoholic beverages in one setting.” First of all it is not a trend. Most of them probably did not fess up because they do not drink and drive. The ones who were left? How many was that? Also, admitting to drinking but they did not admit to driving afterward. Also, what was the timeframe? How much time did it take to drink that much? This is biased because it presumes that the drivers were lying and did drink and drive.

      According to the press release: “. . . and over-sampled teenagers and young adults 16-24 years of age.” At least a plurality of 16-24 year olds made up this survey.

      Also, 20% admit drinking and driving—again not driving drunk. Now how do they know that 8% have driven drunk? How do they know, as many as, 17 million people have driven drunk at least once in the past year.
      “"Drunk driving is deadly, it's against the law, and unfortunately, it's still a problem," said Secretary LaHood.” I would have to say that it is not deadly. It can be. But if there are 17 million drunks on the road a year and there are about 40,000 traffic deaths (not all drunken driving), then < 0.24% maximum death out of 17 million. This is not very deadly at all. Yes it is sad when anyone dies but to spend $Millions of taxpayer's money for such a minor problem is ridiculous. So about the only he said that was true (not an exaggeration) was that it was illegal.

      “Four out of five Americans identified drunk driving as a "major threat" to their own and their family's safety.” This is because the government has spent $Millions on advertising the so-called problem. “And if you're below the age of 21, there is zero tolerance for any alcohol in your system whatsoever. That's why we're out there with law enforcement, tackling this major safety issue head on."” It is NOT a Major safety problem. It is ironic that 17 year olds can die in a war but cannot drink?

      “While this admission in the survey was inclusive of all drinking occasions, and not just drinking and driving, it does suggest that when young people decide to combine the two, they are drinking more heavily.” So it does include those who did NOT drive after drinking. This was not made clear in the article. The author made it seem that all were driving drunk. Again elapsed time is not indicated here either. So, this data is bogus too.

      “According to the survey, 8 percent of the population 16 and older rode in the past year with a driver they thought may have consumed too much alcohol to drive safely.” Again with the 8%? Also, it is a just a perception that they may have had too much to drink. How do they know? Why is hearsay part of a survey? This is appearances over substance. These are pure fantasy. The government uses these so-called numbers to justify a crackdown.





      • 4 Years Ago
      Oh wow, a comment from gua that isn't about him being an ignorant and racist anti-American moron.

      Oh but wait, his comment still shows how ignorant he still is.

      The story just provided info about a study that says 8% of all Americans admitted to drunk driving. I don't know the exact percentage, but it's fairly small when you're referring to underage DUIs. Therefore, that means the majority of the people that did this study are adults. Heck, I'm positive all were adults.

      So your little math problem makes no sense.

      Who wants to make a bet that gua is going to blame Obama for this?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Yes the penalties should be much higher (Bulgaria's is rather nice, as is El Salvador's). But this is not the only clear and present danger. Driving while Phoning (or Texting) should be classified in the same league. There is little excuse for these offenses, other than 'it makes my life harder to behave properly'.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wilber- Yes! "Live and let live"! To have the right to graduate highschool without being a wheel chair, the right to not lose a limb or the right to have a badly broken and scarred body because somebody wanted to drive after imbibing too heavily! All this article is asking people to consider their blood alcohol content and whether THEY feel they are safe to drive. It has NOTHING to do about anyones rights and personal piety. Remember driving is a PRIVELEGE that we have to prove that we can keep! The blazes with your snottyness!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Drinking and driving results in over 10,000 deaths every year in this country. Almost 12,000 died last year alone. 1 out of every 3 motor vehicle collisions involve alcohol and drugs of some sort, and is responsible for one fatality every 30 minutes on average.

      Think of the five most important people in your life...two of those are likely to be critically injured or killed in your lifetime...which two?

      Not important to you???...until you or someone YOU LOVE has it happen to them.

      Not a sermon...just statistics I see every day, year in and year out.

      Director
      Driver Improvement Program
      Virginia
      • 4 Years Ago
      @Elmo
      Don't worry. I get ranked down all the time. I don't place too much value in my stars. I am probably just turning people off by being too "preachy."

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